I almost stopped the presses on my new cookbook after I tried out this recipe because it would’ve been perfect for one of the chapters! The whole book is centered around leftovers, if you didn’t know, and this recipe works best with leftover chicken. While you can use fresh chicken and start from scratch (I did for this post), if you happen to have some leftover chicken this delicious meal could be thrown together in fifteen minutes.
While the chicken could be leftover or fresh for this meal, the corn is actually the star. I used a bunch of fresh sweet corn and it totally made the dish.
There are a few different pieces to the meal, but they are all very simple and really tasty. I’m glad you guys voted for it though last week because it happened to be my favorite option out of the list which rarely happens!
If you don't have any leftover chicken, bring a medium pot of water to a simmer with a pinch of salt and (optionally) a few dried chilis. Once simmering, add about 1.5 pounds chicken (I like thighs) and let simmer lightly for 5 minutes. Then kill the heat, cover the pot and let sit for 10 more minutes so chicken is just poached through, but not overcooked or dry.
Remove chicken from pot and let cool briefly, then chop into pieces. If it isn't cooked through, return to hot water for another five minutes.
1) Add a good drizzle of olive oil (2 tablespoons) to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add corn kernels and cook until kernels are starting to char lightly, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2) Add onions, jalapenos, and minced garlic to the skillet and continue to stir until veggies soften, about 5 more minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.
3) Add chopped chicken, lime juice, and continue to cook until skillet is warmed through.
4) For crema, stir in ground cumin and season with lime and salt and set aside until needed.
5) In a small skillet over medium heat, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil (1/2 teas) and one flour tortilla. Cook flour tortilla until it's lightly charred on one side. Don't cook it on both sides so it is still soft on one side but crispy on the other side.
6) Serve skillet, topped with cotija cheese, cilantro, and served with charred tortillas and cumin crema. Let people add hot sauce on their own.
Leftovers are Best
If you don’t happen to have leftover chicken in the fridge, that’s totally okay. You could grill some chicken if that’s your thing, but I actually just poached a few chicken thighs and then shredded it and used that in my skillets!
If you want to go the poaching route, bring a medium pot of water to a simmer with a pinch of salt and maybe a few dried chiles (optional). Add the chicken and simmer it for 5 minutes. Then kill the heat, cover the pot and let the chicken sit for 10-15 minutes and the hot water will slowly poach the chicken.
Remove the chicken and it should be just cooked through. Then you can let it cool and chop it up! I also chopped up a few of the dried chiles that I used in my poaching liquid for some extra heat.
Now let’s talk about the veg which is actually my favorite part of the dish!
Three ears of corn is actually a lot for a skillet dish like this. It probably works out to about two to two and a half cups of sweet corn kernels.
The skillet actually cooks pretty quickly so make sure you prep all your veggies before you get started. Cut the kernels off the corn cobs, dice the onions and jalapenos, and mince the garlic finely.
For the jalapenos, leave the seeds in if you want it spicier. For the corn, stand the cob up in a large bowl and cut the kernels off carefully. Doing it in a bowl will mean the kernels will fall in the bowl and not all over your counter!
Cooking the Skillet
A cast iron skillet is your best bet for this dish, but honestly any skillet would work. Whatever skillet you use, add a good drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and then add the corn. Let the kernels cook by themselves for 5 minutes or so until they start to char lightly. Then you can add in the onions, peppers, and garlic and continue to cook.
As always, season this delicious mess with some salt and pepper as it cooks.
Meanwhile, do this: Get some sour cream (or Mexican crema) and stir in a dash of ground cumin, juice from half a lime, and a pinch of salt. You’re gonna slather this stuff all over the tortillas before you scoop in the skillet fixings.
Back to the skillet: Once the veggies are mostly cooked, go ahead and stir in the chopped chicken. Season the dish with some lime juice, salt, and pepper and continue to cook it until the chicken is warmed through. Sprinkle the skillet liberally with crumbled cotija cheese and fresh cilantro and you are ready to go.
I served the skillet with a few flour tortillas that I lightly fried on just one side. I added a tiny drizzle of oil in a small skillet and fried the flour tortilla over medium heat for about a minute. The benefit of just frying them on one side is that they are crispy, but still flexible so you can fold the tortilla around the filling, but you still get some crunch.
I just served up the skillet and let people (me and Betsy) assemble their own little tacos. It’s was a great dinner!
Everything works in this dish, but my favorite part of it is how fast you can make it! Even if you worked a 12 hour day, you could come home and have this sucker on the table in just a few minutes.
It’s delicious, filling, and uses some wonderful sweet summer corn. The Mexican skillet is definitely worth your time!